RESEARCH INTERESTS

Transcriptional enhancers are known as fundamental non-coding elements in our genomes that control the spatial and temporal expression patterns of genes. Along the linear chromosome enhancers can be located hundreds of thousands of base-pairs away from their target gene(s) and recent epigenomic profiling studies predict more than a million of such enhancers to be present in human genomes.

In our lab we use a combination of molecular genetics, functional genomics and genome engineering to define fundamental gene regulatory mechanisms that control mammalian heart formation and/or cardiac reprogramming. This knowledge has direct relevance for our understanding of congenital heart disease and carries therapeutic potential for heart muscle repair.

Currently, our main areas of interest are:

1) Cardiac enhancer function in heart development and disease.

We are using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, transgenic fluorescent reporter tagging and single-cell profiling in mouse embryos to functionally dissect the cardiac enhancer landscapes of transcription factor (TF) genes that are essential for heart formation. Identification of cardiac enhancers and understanding of their cellular specificities and regulatory relationships will be important to establish accurate mechanistic links between gene networks, cardiac development and disease-associated non-coding genomic mutations.

 

2) Cis-regulatory mechanisms underlying cardiac reprogramming.

We are planning to implement a CRISPR-based approach for concerted activation of developmental TFs to enable cardiac trans-differentiation in target cell types. It is our goal to use this system to uncover genomic cis-regulatory modules in control of the cardiac reprogramming process which holds therapeutic potential for regeneration of infarcted cardiac tissue and heart muscle repair.

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NEWS

May 1st, 2020
Osterwalder Lab start date at the University of Bern
The Osterwalder Lab has officially started at the DBMR on May 1, 2020. If you are interested in joining the lab visit the Contact page.
June 1st, 2020
Julie Gamart, PhD, has joined the lab as expert research technician. Welcome Julie!
September 14th, 2020
Virginia Roland, MSc, has joined the lab as first PhD student. Welcome Virginia!
November 16th, 2020
Matteo Zoia, MSc, has joined the lab as fellow PhD student. Great to have you, Matteo!
See Members section.